Sunday, February 8, 2009


I am powerless over my addiction. It renders me senseless. I stay up to the wee hours. Get up early. Help me cast this demon off - but I don't want to....

It starts with someone close to you. You sit quietly, ask what have you been doing. It starts as they tell you about what they did, what they know, how they got to know that. They speak of a joy of knowing more than they did before, a broader sense of what it means to be them....I am hooked.

The people who do this to you are people you trust. They come in the guise of mothers, fathers and friends of longstanding. They show you the pictures of their adventures, who they met and what they know now. Then they offer to let you in, to help you. It is so sinister in the most delicious way. A new way to be connected to all of life to know you are part of a bigger family. It is genealogy.

This Christmas, Rebecca and I gave my Dad a consultation with a genealogist to help him solve questions about his family. To make this happen, I gave the genealogist a summary of the family history. The gift was given. I have also talked to my college room mate who is a genealogist of long standing who has been sending me pictures of census, birth and death certificates and other things she finds about my family. She even started a family tree for me on Of course I have added to it. I now have 156 of my nearest and dearest listed. I have several generations left to list....My Mom gave me the Swisher book that has many generations. The Oechslers are a mystery that will require further sleuthing. Then there is the entire Henry side. Dad's been working dilligently with his cousin Meta to track down our relatives. The genealogy consultation given at Christmas was meant to help him solve some mysteries and break down a wall. I love to sleuth and solve mysteries so this pursuit is pretty captivating.

Committed genealogists visit the lands of their forebears, track down gravesites, email strangers (soon to be named family) to track down information, and make visits to the historical society, libraries, family research centers and any other places you can think of to track down the persons in question. When you have success you can feel joy and rest on your laurels. That is until you determine the next quest. There is a cycle to this addiction.

One of the many interesting people in my family history is George A. Blair. He is one of the great great grand children of John and Mary Magdalene Swisher from the 1780's. I must confess I've known of him for a long-time because of his special place in our family lore. His nickname is "Banana George". He is known as a barefoot water skier, certainly an unusal skill he practiced well into his later years. He is said to have been the only man to have performed barefoot, water skiing on all of the continents, including Antartica. He is now approaching 95! His official website

At this point, you no doubt are wondering what could be the recipe that would fit with all of this. I'll give you a clue: nuts - every family has them. Personally I am a pecan. I've decided to reach across the generations and families to share something new to me. As you know I collect family recipes. My Mom wrote Dad's cousin Meta (who is named after my grandmother Meta Amelia Collins Henry) to ask her for some family recipes. She was kind enought send me recipes from my grandmother's sister Esme taken from a cookbook when Esme was in the 7th grade. It is a recipe for nut bread. I know you'll enjoy it and think about this recipe and ones of your own passed down to share history in a bite or byte if you are a blogger geek like me.

Great Aunt Esme's Nut Bread

1/2 C. sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. salt
1 C. milk
1 C. nut meats
3 C. flour
3 tsp. baking powder

The directions didn't state an oven temperature. Similar recipes call for a slow oven which to me means 325. Just keep an eye on it and make sure it isn't over baked.

In a bowl combine the flour, salt and baking powder. In a larger bowl mix well the sugar and egg. To the egg and sugar add the flour and milk alternating and beginning and ending with the flour. Mix well, gently and don't over mix. Stir in the nut meats.

Pour into a greased loaf pan. Let raise for 30 minutes. Bake for 40-45 minutes checking for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf. The tooth pick should come out clean - no raw batter clinging to the toothpick.

1 comment:

  1. It does tend to get in the way of day to day life!!! Now you know why my house is always a mess.